Text + Image: Marja Saleva: He is so obsessed with me
In He is so obsessed with me, artist Marja Saleva seeks to blur the lines between fiction and reality. The first image in the book is of the artist herself, taken as if some unknown he was photographing her while she slept. What follows is an overwhelming number of photographs documenting the mundane moments of her life- getting out of the shower, making breakfast, reading. Framed by abstracted questions and observations, alongside excerpts from academic papers and personal conversations about romantic relationships- or the lack-there-of -at the beginning and end of the book, He is so obsessed with me questions the idea of romantic partnership as a social construct and the pressure women face to not be alone.
He is so obsessed with me is a personal and expressive portrayal of my everyday life as a single woman around my forties. It is about my obsession with finding a partner and the feeling of being an outsider in a relationship-centered society. Yet seeking romantic love is not only my obsession, it is the obsession of our time.
For the photobook I photographed my life for one year (2011), spontaneously and without staging. The book consists of 350 pages and 350 images.
The book is a combination of the real and the imagined. The photos are documentary and “true” captures of various situations, whereas the photographic narrative is held together by the imaginary He. He represents the look of someone else, of an imagined person, through whose eyes the main character is viewed – or photographed.
The book is based on the mass of images and repetition. The single pictures as well as the photographic narrative as a whole aim at conveying experiences and emotions – directly, indirectly and symbolically.
The main character and her daily actions form the frame for the book. Food, home, flowers,
dressing up and parties are the recurrent motifs of the photos. The book begins very intimately, showing an extremely private act, which is an important prolog for the narrative.
The book is an alternative home album in a family- and relationship-oriented society. It is one depiction of a fairly large marginal that is often portrayed stereotypically. – Marja Saleva
Marja Saleva (1975) is a photographic artist based in Helsinki, Finland. Her work often explores romantic love and the related norms, ideals and obsessions. She is interested in the gaze – who looks at whom and how – and how a woman and woman’s sexuality are presented in photography. She makes use of the snapshot style and seeks amateur and DIY aesthetics in her images. Her works take the form of books, zines and installations and have been shown in several solo and group exhibitions. Saleva earned her Bachelor of Arts degree from the Turku Arts Academy in 2013 and her Master of Social Sciences degree from the University of Turku in 2001. She was shortlisted for Fotografia Europea Prize 2020.
He is so obsessed with me is an ongoing project. At the moment it exists in two parts: the photobook (2013) and an online story (2017).
Follow her on Instagram: @marjasaleva
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